Types of stretch marks and what causes them

Updated on October 16, 2019

Almost 50% to 90% women and even men get stretch marks. Teenage girls are also susceptible to this. But why and how do these marks develop on your dermis? Right from hormonal changes in the body to physical transformation and alteration in skin structure can be associated with this condition. Pregnant women or someone following weight maintenance regime are, typically, more at the risk of developing these scars on their body. And it is believed that once these thin bands form, it becomes quite difficult to erase them. 

That can be true to a certain extent, but you need not worry about it. In the market, effective creams and gels are available to treat these marks. But the point is how far that cream or gel, or even cosmetic used lasers, can be useful depends on your understanding of the type of stretch mark you have, and when exactly you begin to tend to them. For your knowledge, the distinct types of stretch marks are discussed below.

Classification of stretch marks

Primarily, stretch marks are classified into two main types:

Striae rubrae: The appearance of pink / red stretch marks is termed as striae rubrae, an acute stage that occurs due to excessive stretching of the dermis. A loss of rete pegs (a type of membrane extension) and tissue degeneration cause the epidermis to become flat. As a consequence, collagen fibers become denser and create a parallel pattern to adjust themselves. Another fiber, elastin, also starts to go down. These changes in the skin structure pave the way for pink or red colored stretch marks that may grow long and wide over time. These marks tend to be a bit itchy.

Striae albae: The appearance of white stretch marks is called striae albae. This is an advanced stage, where these marks appear to be white or faded with irregular shapes, creating an impression of wrinkles. 

It may take a couple of months or years for your skin to go from the acute to an advanced stage of stretch marks. The mature marks get more noticeable as you age, because of the loss of natural elasticity. Furthermore, these thin bands can also be categorized as striae gravidarum, striae atrophicans, and striae caerulea, etc. Striae gravidarum occurs during pregnancy, the condition of striae atrophicans, commonly, takes place in people suffering from Cushing’s syndrome, and striae caerulea or dark purple to blue stretch marks occur to people with a darker complexion.

Causes of stretch marks

As mentioned earlier, these scars can develop due to various reasons. Here some of them are discussed briefly.

Weight alteration: Any sudden change in your body can lead to stretch mark formation, especially at a young age. If you are training for muscle mass, you are most likely to experience this.

Medicines: If you are taking some medication, such as birth control pills or corticosteroids drugs (prescribed in case of asthma, skin allergy, and arthritis), you may gain weight or experience bloating, swelling or other such transformation in your body, causing your skin to expand and eventually, develop stretch marks.

Pregnancy: Stretch marks develop in pregnant women, especially after six months. When the baby increases in size, your body too increases its size. That aside, a pregnant woman experiences a lot of hormonal changes in her system, which may impact her skin and cause it to break down.

Diseases: Any illness that causes weight gain, skin allergies, or sudden growth of tissues can lead to stretch marks. For example, if you are suffering from Cushing’s syndrome which indicates trouble with your adrenal glands, or other conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos and Marfan that are damaging for your tissue body, you can become susceptible to these marks.

Surgical treatment: In some cases, procedures, such as breast augmentation, organ transplant, or cardiac surgery, may also lead to the formation of these thin bands.

Genes: According to some studies, you can be predisposed to stretch marks if people in your family have a history of them.

Can you prevent stretch marks from forming?

There is no doubt that genetics can be a determining factor in these marks. However, it is not necessary that like your parents, you will have them too. You can prevent these marks from growing on your skin by taking care of small things:

  • Maintain your body weight
  • Drink the right amount of water
  • Consume zinc- and Vitamin A-, C-, and D-rich foods, such as citrus, milk, nuts, fish

Despite doing all this, if you still get these thin bands on your skin, consider following a proper treatment to get rid of them. Here are a few things that you can trust to give better results.

  • Meet a certified dermatologist to solve your skin problem. Don’t forget to inform her about the kind of medication you are taking or the health conditions you have.
  • Take a prescription drug, such as retinol based, to remove those marks. This type of drug works on new stretch marks only. When you apply this drug, it changes or creates a layer of skin, hiding the new marks.
  • Choose laser therapy that makes these marks less visible. It is an expensive method, and it may take up to 20 rounds to get rid of the problem. Only certified plastic surgeons or skin dermatologists can do this.
  • Buy self-tanning lotions or sprays to get the desired results. They don’t erase your marks but make them less noticeable by creating an even skin tone.
  • Exfoliate your skin with scrubs, buffs or microdermabrasion for a smoother feeling.

These treatments can be useful, but there is no guarantee. Hence, it will be better to try a safe and hassle-free therapy for this. Nowadays, you can see many scar creams and stretch mark removal creams in the market. These are generally over-the-counter stuff. You don’t need any prescription for them, and also, they have fair pricing. For an experience, you can check this link: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Scar-Cream-Stretch-Removal/dp/B00RSN5N8G. These creams usually don’t cause side-effects, and also can give desired results over some time if you apply them as recommended.

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